From the Z-File: Tirilan

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - 3:07 PM

To understand Tirilan, one must first look at his mother, Jolani. A midwife and dragon-line scholar of the Durzani people, Jolani had a husband who was rich and powerful. Though she was a successful midwife, Jolani could not bear children of her own, and her work as a midwife began to dwindle after her marriage. The Durzani are strong believers in sympathetic magic, and a midwife who cannot herself bear children was an ill omen. Further, as time went on, her husband kept her only out of honor and respect for her and her family.

As a result, Jolani was often left alone for long periods of time, and accumulated a huge library of books on various subjects. Reading on metaphysics and magic is a tradition for high-born Durzani women, and she pursued this avidly to help her forget her shame. In her solitude she was discovered by a rather notorious magician who, walking unseen, was struck by her talent and her hunger for a better life. He inducted her into Forsaking, the strange unlife-seeking cult of necromancy, gave her the tools to continue, and then guided her to a new home where he intended her to be another tool of his own.

Unfortunately for him, his enemies discovered his location, and he was forced to flee. Left to her own devices, Jolani became the head of a large Forsaker cult, and her quiet madness was matched by her brilliance. She believed that her teacher had been her husband, off on matters of importance, and was obsessed with producing an heir for him. In Jolani's delusions, she tried many things, her powerful maternal instinct warped by the Forsaker teachings.

Eventually, Tirilan was born, cold and dead, but life was breathed into him.

As a young man, Tirilan was sent north to the Sarcophagus near Urakh, to learn further and seek out information Jolani needed for her own work. He went there with a small group of trusted Forsakers, but when he returned some while later, his mother and nearly all of his 'family' were destroyed (PCs happen). He recovered what he could, performed proper funeral rites for his mother, and left the catacombs he'd played in as a boy. Though his mother had impressed upon him the envy and hatred of the world, finding his home in ruins had made that hatred real. Tirilan realized that in order to carry on his mother's legacy, he must be prepared to meet the animosity of the world head-on.

So, Tirilan began to travel to places his mother had referenced in her work, gathering up knowledge relating to unlife, undeath, mortality and similar topics. Along the way, many were swept up in the wake of his personable, passionate nature and the strength of his purpose, which had grown to be far more than a need to learn.

As a boy, Tirilan had increasingly frequent and vivid dreams about the rise of a black, seething sun that cast shadows in indescribable shades of darkness. These dreams filled him with wonder and exultation, and in later dreams, he saw himself in armor, flying a wide, white banner, while an army marched behind him. The black sun would rise further into the sky the further he and his army marched. While studying in Urakh, he discovered a brief reference in a decrepit document about the 'signs of the Black Sun', and he was astounded and intrigued. From then on, he dedicated himself to martial arts as well as the esoteric, moving research of the Black Sun to the top priority.

Tirilan's study of the Black Sun has long since turned to devotion and conviction. The more he discovers about the Black Sun, the more he believes he is its herald, the one who will return the unlight of the Black Sun to the world and balance out the sun which currently exists. He intends to destroy the shackles of life and death. Though originally he was regarded with a great deal of skepticism, Tirilan has evinced the ability to call miracles from the Black Sun. The more he studies it, the more he uncovers about it and the more people he convinces of its power and importance, the more powerful he gets.

As a result, Tirilan has become the center of a fractured cult, composed of Forsakers, undead, necromancers of all sorts, and those who are merely interested in such things as spiritualism and life beyond the borders of death. His utter faith in the Black Sun along with a tremendous force of personality and years of arcane study have drawn the interest of many, and Tirilan's following continues to increase.

Given that Tirilan's closest followers organize themselves in a militant fashion, there is considerable worry about what the Black Sun might call Tirilan to do next. This worry has spread to some who follow him, also, and there have been a couple of attempts on Tirilan's life.

Notes on Tirilan:

Tirilan's mother was highborn Durzani, and she raised her son to be a gentleman, a warrior and a scholar. He was thoroughly educated in literature, arts, sciences and courtly manners. The importance of honor and courtesy were impressed upon him. He is unfailingly polite, sometimes almost deferential in his manner, and adheres strongly to a chivalrous code of conduct. Those who meet him are often astonished by his open, generous bearing, and his attention to formality and social ritual.

However, Tirilan's philosophies come from a Forsaker background. His mother treated her controlled undead as if they were her children, and after his birth, the undead were his family. When he learned dance, his partners were undead. His playmates as a boy were often undead, as well. Now, the ones that he creates or controls are his friends and sworn protectors, and even the mindless ones are accorded a certain respect. Tirilan has no problem with creating and consorting with the dead, pressing evil spirits into his service or killing those who would impede his quest. If his enemies meet him with courtesy and fairness, he'll fight them accordingly, but the horrors he inflicts on traitors are enough to discomfit some of the necromancers in his following.

Thus, Tirilan is a study of bizarre contrasts between a reserved and genteel noble and a death-obsessed necromantic templar. He holds salons of philosophical and arcane debate, teaches courtly manners and arts to his followers, and pays artisans well for their work. But he also recruits from crypts and graveyards, tortures and then binds the spirits of those who defy him, and fills his court with the walking dead. He treats women and children in particular with generosity and profound respect, even though he knows that many of them will die when the Black Sun rises. He kills those who torture the helpless, but he often recruits from some of the darker corners of necromantic study.

Tirilan himself is efficient, very intelligent and a born leader. He is filled with the certainty of his quest, though he does not yet completely understand the Black Sun's purpose, and he acknowledges that he has much to learn. It is a mistake to think of him as a fanatic; Tirilan approaches his faith with an open mind, and he rarely loses his temper. He is a clever strategist, and very good with people (at least, those who can get past some of his affectations). He has an astonishingly casual attitude towards the macabre, and has absolutely no fear of death except as an inconvenience to his plans. Supremely confident in his duties to the Black Sun, Tirilan may seem arrogant, but he ultimately regards himself as a true knight-protector; a servant, not a master. His friends find him completely trustworthy, and so do his enemies.

As written, Tirilan is focused on raising a great army in order to seize lore that is being hoarded or otherwise kept from him, and to secure a hold for the faith of the Black Sun. To that end, he is actively drawing in as many allies as he can from various ostracized communities, schools of magic, and outcast priesthoods. Though it disgusts him to associate with certain sorts of necromancer, he weeds out those he can and makes use of the rest. He is secretly committed to slaughtering the most wicked of them when his work is done. Tirilan is meant to be the honorable but relentless adversary, someone that the heroes could easily respect as much as they fight against him.

Some of his lackeys, on the other hand, are pretty foul. If the heroes don't kill them, Tirilan will eventually.

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